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"What you cannot enforce, do not command."
Sunday, Dec 19, 2004, 11:36 PMMy daughter asked me to place a disclaimer about why I posted this particular article in my blog. Psy said visitors might misinterpret that I am a victim of it -- which is very unfair for my good husband . Anyway, I'm just making this handy to understand people whom I know as to why they dwell in such predicament.
by Aubrey Hammack
Violence against women continues to be a major problem in this country. It is nothing new. It has been with us for ages.
Who is the battered woman? What does she look like? We are told she doesn’t come from any particular socio-economic class. She is normal with no special attributes many times that make her stand out in a crowd.
Some characteristics of this woman are:
1) Low self-esteem
2) Usually is a traditional wife or girlfriend and believes in strong family unity
3) Accepts responsibility for being battered
4) Suffers guilt from it
5) Presents herself to the world as a passive person, but has enough strength to prevent herself from being killed or severely injured many times
6) Believes her situation is hopeless
7) Is financial ly dependent on her husband or boyfriend
These women do not choose to stay in the relationship because they enjoy the beatings and abuse. Most of them stay for economic, legal or social-dependence reasons. Many simply have no place to go. Most people can not understand why a woman would not leave the man who treats her so cruelly. A lot of women feel guilty and ashamed and feels the abuses they realize are punishment for their sins.
Women that are on welfare are usually more successful at leaving these men because they can control to some degree their own finances. They stay in the abusive relationships for several reasons. They stay for companionship, fear of aging, or having to face being a single parent. They are many times afraid that they will be harmed or killed if they leave.
Also, many women will leave the abusive relationship many times before she finally makes the break. With this in mind, the caregiver must not give up on them when they go back to the abuser. They have not become strong enough to make the final break.
Evidence suggests that the men who batter women learn this behavior from a significant male in their own life. They have many times grown up in families where they witnessed their dad’s abuse of their mothers. Many times these fathers have been abused themselves. He has grown up with a strong authoritarian type of male ruling the house. These men focus on weak, dependent females and seek them out. When in this position, he has a sense of power, which makes him feel better about himself because usually this is the only power he has in life. He will have low self-esteem and has learned that he can boost his ego by bullying those weaker than himself.
He usually will express a lot of jealousies to his lover. He is extremely suspicious of she does, whom she sees and whom she talks with. He will accuse her of having sexual affairs with almost any male she comes into contact with from her father to the salesclerk at the supermarket.
Lenore E. Walker, in her book on the Battered Woman, talks of three stages of the battering cycle. They are Phase I- The Tension Building Stage, Phase II- The Acute Battering Stage and Phase III- The Kindness and Contrite Loving Behavior Stage.
In Phase I the woman usually does all she can to calm down the batterer. She may nurture him or simply attempt to stay out of his way. She accepts the abuse because she thinks this will keep matters from getting worse. She here is seen to have sleeplessness, loss of appetite, overeating and sleeping, and constant fatigue. Phase II sees the explosion. It is here where she is usually beaten. She anticipates this is coming. Phase III is characterized by extreme loving, almost kin to the honeymoon stage. The batterer shows affection and kind behavior that resembles a newly wed. He knows what he has done is wrong and tries to make it up to her. He begs forgiveness and promises never to do it again. He is like a little boy promising that he won’t do it again.
So, what is the answer? No one plan or method seems to be working that allows battered women to get away from the man described above. Interesting enough, this woman may actually love this man. A lot of understanding from a care provider must be given, whether it is a professional counselor or another significant person. We must all become more sensitive to the battered woman, realizing that it may seem very simple to us, but it is terribly complex problem for these women.
But most important of all, these males need to be taught as children that physically, sexually, and verbally abusing women is wrong and can not be tolerated. The education system itself can be used to meet this objective.
I believe that the social conscience has to be raised concerning this problem. When this is done, we will start seeing a decline in this problem.